STRATEGIC PRODUCTION LINE SYNCHRONISATION
Keywords:production levelling, Lean, waste reduction, process reengineering
A study was conducted at the sole global producer of suspension struts for a particular vehicle manufacturer. This supplier is currently able to meet customer demand. However, it does so because of a large finished goods and work-in-progress (WIP) inventory. The plant operates two production processes that are separated by a large buffer of WIP, which essentially decouples the production processes. This study aimed to reduce this WIP buffer; this would require the processes to become synchronised, bearing in mind that the reliability of delivery should not decrease. A tool that considers time, quality, and machine capacity was developed to assess the impact of line synchronisation on company performance figures. It was found that line synchronisation produced several benefits for the supplier, including batch size reduction, lower inventory levels, and associated shorter lead times. This further allowed the supplier to improve flow in the plant by introducing a pull system. Improved visual oversight could lead to further improved problem-solving and innovation.
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